I received a note via email from a contact at St. Aemilian’s-Lakeside Center in Milwaukee today, indicating she had received my notarized letter requesting my father’s orphan records from the 40s. They are in the mail….wow, I am both so excited and both so stricken with a little bit of grief. To imagine my father in an orphanage at the tender age of 7, and which brothers were with him for certain..…the past is about to unfold in documentation. I have only heard vague stories of his life there and both sides of the family trying to help it not to happen. His father was living, but apparently not able to care for the boys as a widower from about 1941 through 1950. He remarried sometime in the early 50s, and went on to have six more children; having married a widow with four children. So thirteen children in all for this blended family. I recently found my father’s six half-siblings through an obituary. I also found one of them on Ancestry.com and wrote them a brief note. They may not want to correspond, and I’m leaving that up to them. I am perfectly satisfied just knowing who they are; it has brought me peace of mind.
I’m not sure how I am feeling about all of this, but I know God wants me to see the picture and to forgive where forgiveness is needed. If anything my compassion meter went up way over 100 percent and I discovered each piece of information. The contact person at the former orphanage, now a residential treatment center, was so kind and helpful and you can tell she enjoys finding the information in the archives and handing it over to loved ones. I’m sure she knows it is a heart wrenching event mixed with many emotions. Part of you wants to know, another part fears what could be painful information.
I have long wondered what my father’s father was doing from 1941 through 1950, but because his obituary that I finally located in an archived newspaper, states he was an auditor for the state department of revenue, I will assume he used part of those years to further his education in order to obtain such a job. In the 1940 census he had completed four years of high school and was widowed, with three sons, and was working as a supervising clerk for a loan company. Around 1941 my father was in the orphanage and later by age 11 placed in foster care with a farming family. By 1950 my father had joined the Marine Corps at age 17. By 1956 he was a decorated 2nd Lieutenant and marrying my mother, also a Marine.
My father on his mother’s lap, with one older brother, (younger one not yet born; 1933)
A little on the facility my father was in orphan care at:
St. Aemilian’s-Lakeside, Inc.
Advancing foster care, education and mental health services throughout southeastern Wisconsin http://www.st-al.org/
St. Aemilian-Lakeside, Inc. provides innovative family-centered care and educational services that embrace diversity and empower children, families, and adults to improve the quality of their lives.
St. Aemilian-Lakeside works with children, families, and adults to help them achieve stable and productive lives.
From our origin as an orphanage for Milwaukee's earliest immigrants, St. Aemilian-Lakeside has evolved into a dynamic provider to advance foster care, education and mental health services for all of Southeast Wisconsin and beyond. St. Aemilian-Lakeside, Inc. is non-profit and non-sectarian.